In early May the government pledged 200,000 Nrs. to every family who lost their house in the earthquake. Shortly after, it was decided to quickly hand out an initial 15,000 Nrs. – as an immediate emergency grant – for building temporary shelters before the monsoon. It wasn’t a huge amount but enough to buy zink sheets and get a roof over the head, and so it seemed to solve one of the most urgent matters in the earthquake aftermath: to provide at least some shelter from the elements before the rain started. But then the program stalled!
Chief District Officer of Sindhupalchowk, Krishna Prasad Gyawali, just abandoned his post. It’s not “dereliction of duty”, he explains, but a call for help! On Wednesday, four days into the earthquake aftermath, one of the worst hit districts had still not received the most basic relief aid – like tents, food and medicine supplies. Thousands of locals are without homes, many have lost their food granaries, and all Gyawali could tell them was: “I can’t help you – come back later”. Scores of villagers who just lost everything started protesting, and now Gyawali refuses to return until the government delivers.
“Your crash course on local politics in Nepal is an extensive and well-researched brief for those coming into Nepal in need of a primer.” Christina Costello, Program Manager, Asia, NDI
Federalism has been on everybody’s lips for seven-eight years. A federal state structure – based on ethnicity – was indeed a popular idea back in 2008. But what about now? Well, ask the Kathmandu-based Interdisciplinary Analysts (IA), and they’ll say it’s all changed. Merely 26 percent of the population are in favour of federalism; and even more so, out of this segment only 12 percent favours federalism based on ethnicity!
IA’s results are based on a nation-wide survey among 3000 respondents. So it seems quite reliable too, statistically speaking. On top of that, another recent survey by Himalmedia supports these results. In fact, this week featured several arguments in the media against (ethnic) federalism. David Seddon wrote under the headline, “Devolution without federalism”, that now it’s time to return to the Local Self-governance Act of 1999 and start from there. That might not happen. But for the time being, a large majority of Nepalis do seem to favour the old set-up of elected local bodies.
The aspect of Nepali party politics that caught our attention last month is a simple one at first glance: the number of parties that registered for the – maybe – upcoming election in November this fall. Aside from the number, however, there is little simple about it. 140 is the count of political parties right now, excluding those that decided not to participate. A huge number! It might not be surprising that the number has climbed that high – perhaps it’s only natural that more parties are formed as time goes by. But then again: how can there be so many parties – in Nepal?
Ask a scholar and many will say that political parties are meant to represent sets of values
What’s it like to be a staffer at the lowest level of government: in a VDC? Many VDC secretaries will tell you it’s not the greatest job in the world. Pick any point in time over the last decade or so and you’ll find quite a lot of VDC secretaries absent. Many posts are often vacant too! But there are exceptions, and we recently ran into one of them: Indramaya from Palanchowk out in Kavre.
Indramaya is not even a VDC secretary but only “assistant secretary”, a post created some time back. The DDC realised that several VDC secretaries were in fact over-
Never since the 1950s has Nepal been without elected local bodies for so long. How long has it been? Well, more than a decade. The last local election was held in 1997, and the popular mandate expired back in 2001/02. So it’s been a while! Since King Gyenendra took power in 2002, and continuously under the more recent governments, the local bodies – the DDCs, VDCs, and municipalities – have officially been left to civil servants. In 2008, so-called local multiparty committees were established, but only to serve in an advisory role. They were comprised of the respective local parties and meant to ensure people’s participation in local government. At first, the arrangement
There are many maps suggesting how to delineate future ethnically based federal states in Nepal. The “Tharu state”, the “Newari state”, the “Madeshi” state – all these names are on the table and more. Will it work to sub-divide the territory of a country, which has more than 60 ethnic groups, using the criterion of “ethnic majority” instead of administrative considerations? Well, it is indeed a difficult question, and that’s precisely why it does seem important to discuss it. One could be reminded of the old Greeks who said that every whole is made up of its smaller parts, and only by being closely familiar with the smallest parts can we understand how the bigger whole works. Why not consider the question of “ethnic